7 Things Recent College Graduates Should NOT Do in a Job Interview

by Sheila Solomon Rudd, Executive Director

July 18, 2016

ID-100228001According to a survey conducted by recruiting firm, Adecco, hiring managers are three times more likely to hire someone who is 50-years-old or older, rather than a college graduate or a “millennial.” Why? The 501 recruiters surveyed cited their biggest concern with hiring recent college graduates was long-term commitment, professionalism, reliability, and lack of interview skills.

In light of these findings, here are 7 things recent college graduates should NOT do in a job interview and tips on how to improve your interview skills.



1.  Wear unprofessional clothing: 75% of hiring managers agree this is the biggest interview mistake. Going to an interview in shorts, t-shirt, plunging necklines, too-short hemlines, and flip flops is not the way to impress a possible employer.

When you’re in doubt of the company’s dress code, always opt for overdressing to make a great first impression. Good rule of thumb – if you have to think twice about it, don’t wear it.

2. Post inappropriate content on social media: What you post on your personal Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts may come back to haunt you. A Carnegie Mellon University study reveals that nearly a third of companies scourer social media and cut potential candidates before even meeting them. If you have posts of wild fraternity parties or pictures of you chugging beer, or if you’ve shared too much personal information, use profanity frequently, or write posts with poor grammar, don’t be surprised if you’re not called in for an interview.

Like it or not, social media has become a window into someone’s personality and life. One way for companies to find out if a candidate is the right cultural fit is by looking at what someone’s posting. Because hiring managers may not be able to tell the difference between your personal and professional life, it’s critical to step back and review how you are defining yourself on social media. Same rule of thumb applies- if you have to think twice about posting something, you probably shouldn’t.

3. Become overly self-assured: Although a “can do” attitude is a greatly appreciated quality for any job position, having an excess amount of self-esteem is not. Close to 60% of hiring managers say college graduates tend to be overconfident in their skills and experience in an interview.

Highlighting your accomplishments and strengths are important, as long as it doesn’t sound like you’re “boasting.” Remember, it is not about you, but about how you fit into a team and the company culture. Share experiences and examples of how you’ve contributed to a group at work or at school and how you’ve taken initiative in the group when things did not go as expected.

4. Not research the company: College graduates and young professionals are associated with being creative and strong networkers, but when it comes to organization and research skills, not so much. 62% of hiring managers say college graduates come to an interview without at least some basic knowledge of the company’s products, services, history, or company culture.

When you interview for a company without doing your homework, it shows. Considering the plethora of information online, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prepare without conducting proper research on the organization, position, and industry.

5. Not ask enough questions or the right ones: 60% of hiring managers say college graduates don’t ask questions during a job interview (with the appropriate average asking 4 to 5 thoughtful questions about the company or position). When you do not ask questions during an interview, you may be considered uninterested, indifferent, or even “clueless.”

Questions to ask: How does this position fit into the company’s long-term plans? How would you describe the ideal candidate?

6. Check your phone, post on social media, or text: We’d like to think this goes without saying, but you should refrain from checking your cell phone, updating your status on social media, texting friends or family, wearing sunglasses on your head, and chewing gum during the interview.

7. No “Thank You” Note: Although recruiters and hiring managers debate as to whether thank you emails or thank you snail mail notes increase your chances of getting called back for a second interview or getting hired, thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration definitely makes a positive impression.

Some recruiters say handwritten “Thank You” cards can set you apart because it shows you’ve gone the extra mile. Mail a note card within 48 hours following your interview, and use it as a chance to remind them you are interested in the position. Also, following up a week or two later with a recent piece of information or article you’ve come across about the company helps you to stand out, too. Always have someone proof your correspondence for typos and grammar before sending it.

A job interview is usually a one-shot audition where you have an opportunity to make a positive impression on a potential employer. Taking the time to learn effective interviewing skills can make the difference between being hired or not being offered a position.

As a recent college graduate, learning to articulate your qualifications, skills, and value in a manner that demonstrate confidence and characters is a first step towards acing an interview and getting the job you want.

If you’re a recent college graduate and want to stand out from the crowd in your next job interview, please call us at 813.344.0200.

TBJL Executive Director, Sheila Solomon Rudd, has nearly 30-years of experience as a volunteer leader for community organizations and has a passion for making a difference in people’s lives.


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